At the forthcoming Sarah Vande Berg Tennis & Wellbeing Center, after a sweaty session of volleys and serves, players will be able to slake their thirst with an adult beverage or two.
The Zephyrhills City Council unanimously approved the sale of beer and wine — but no liquor — at the city-owned facility’s indoor restaurant/café. The action came during a virtual council meeting on May 11.
The original request for alcohol sales came from Pascal Collard, who’s private management company is operating the $4.9 million tennis center, set to open in July, at 6585 Simons Road in Zephyrhills.
Situated on more than 8 acres of land, the complex will feature 11 outdoor tennis courts built to United States Tennis Association (USTA) standards, plus eight pickleball courts, four padel courts and an event pavilion.
The facility also features an adjoining 7,400-square-foot indoor space that will house the restaurant/café, as well as a fitness and rehabilitation studio, salt/sauna room, cryotherapy, pro shop, kid’s area and more.
Collard expressed the need for a beer and wine license, in a memo to council members. He explained the sale of beer and wine is needed to help lure a new restaurant business partner. Wesley Chapel-based Buttermilk Provisions planned to run the restaurant/café, but backed out following the rise of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
“The primary focus of our business is to provide a place where people can gather to play sports, meet friends, benefit from our wellness offers, and spend time over food and drinks,” Collard wrote in the memo.
Alcohol sales could be a “make or break” contract opportunity with any prospective new restaurant partner, Collard noted in the memo.
Council members concurred with Collard’s request, to help him cast a wide net to attract another partner as the state-of-the-art facility readies for a summer opening. Also, they feel confident that the consumption of beer and wine will be done judiciously.
Councilman Lance Smith put it like this: “The tennis folks aren’t going to get all ripped up after they have a tennis match.”
Collard later told The Laker/Lutz News he’s signed on Mike and Sue Prenderville as restaurant partners.
The Prendervilles own Song Printing & Design in downtown Zephyrhills, and Mike once operated one of the largest pubs in London, England, Collard said.
The facility’s restaurant/café would operate for lunch and dinner, with a brunch option on weekends, per the memo. Daily operating hours of the café typically will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., then opening at 10 a.m. on weekends. (The tennis complex’s gym will open at 5:30 a.m. everyday, however.)
The restaurant is expected to provide a full menu of hot and cold food, with the ability to offer a juice and protein shake bar and other non-alcoholic beverages.
The ambiance of the facility’s restaurant/café will consist of “easy listening music,” the memo says. No televisions or dance floor are planned.
Noise will be limited because no loud music will be played, Collard wrote.
The city has previously granted alcohol sales at city-owned, but privately-managed facilities.
Years ago, the council approved such sales at the city-owned municipal golf course, which is leased to a private operator, Zephyrhills City Manager Billy Poe said.
City ordinance allows for the sale of alcoholic beverages within 300 feet of a school, provided seating capacity is not less than 25 and at least 51% of combined gross sales comes from the sale of food and non-alcoholic beverages.
The tennis center’s café will be audited annually to ensure they meet that standard, Poe said.
Meantime, the council also approved a request to use $100,000 from the city’s tree mitigation funds to plant more trees throughout the tennis center property.
The additional funding brings the total landscape budget for the project to $200,000.
The contract for the $4.9 million guaranteed maximum price of construction project had called only for $100,000 for landscaping and irrigation.
As a result of the council’s action, the city’s tree mitigation fund has been reduced to $41,000.
Though the measure passed unanimously, council members advised city staffers to have better cost estimates on large projects in the future.
“We need to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again,” said Smith, noting the original $100,000 allocation for landscaping seemed “a paltry sum” on a nearly $5 million recreation project.
Councilman Jodi Wilkeson pointed out the tree mitigation fund “is only good when development is good.” “When we have a lull in development, it takes a long time to get that (up), so for us to spend it all in (one) fell swoop, makes me a little nervous,” she said.
Council president Ken Burgess said he’s not opposed to using tree mitigation funds for the tennis center, but added, “I just think we maybe need to take a closer look at something like this on the front end so that we don’t end up with something like this on the back end.”
Council members expressed concern about all-but bottoming out the mitigation fund so quickly. The tree mitigation fund is made up of fees property owners and developers pay when they are unable to mitigate trees removed from their property.
In other action, the council:
• Approved a final plat for an additional 20 single-family residential lots in the Zephyr Lakes subdivision, a 63-acre development north of Pretty Pond Road and west of Wire Road.
• Approved purchase of a new public works front-load sanitation truck totaling $269,116.50, using sanitation reserves funds ($174,116.50) and insurance provider funds ($95,000). The purchase replaces a 14-year-old sanitation truck damaged beyond repair in February after a fire formed in the truck’s hopper.
• Passed a first reading ordinance consenting to the inclusion of the city’s boundaries into the Pasco County Municipal Service Taxing Unit (MSTU) for fire rescue services.
Published May 20, 2020